Science Behind the Development of Plant-Based Meat

Modern agriculture and food industry has produced variety and plentiful supply of safe, affordable, tasty and convenient foods. Those innovation has led to contributing significant reduction of world hunger and malnutrition. However, large production of food using large quantities of animal products, such as meat, fish, egg, milk, and their derivatives are believed to be one of the major factors that contribute to negative impact on global environmental sustainability. Killing livestock for food leads to the increase in pollution, greater greenhouse emission gases, water and land use, loss of biodiversity of plants and animals.

As a result of those negative effects, a new diet was proposed which is plant-based diet. To be able to maximize the potential of plant-based diet, industry must identify the unique aspect of each product category. Besides that, food industry must possess the ability to select appropriate selection of ingredient and manufacturing to create these plant-based foods in large scale. Because of that, the characteristic, physicochemical properties and the molecular content of the of the ingredients needs to be studied wisely to achieve the structured like in animal products. Most importantly, these plant-based products should be designed as healthy foods which involved controlling their nutrition content, bioavailability, and digestibility. In the case of protein plant-based foods, it is important to make sure that the customer receive their needs of essential amino acids by consuming mixture of several plant proteins

In general, plant-based ingredients are designed as an alternative to wide range food products to replace animal-based foods. Most produced and designed plant-based foods is on meat analog. To produce this meat alike food, TVP or Texturized Vegetable Protein is used to simulate their structure. However, it is still challenging to create prodcuts that actually mimics the muscle fibers, connective tissue, and adipose tissue which all of these aspects contribute to sensory attribute of the meat.

Mimicking the beef profile


Appearance of beef, usage of natural pigments can be utilized so the analog beef has pinkish color before it is cooked and brown after the cooking process. For example, betalain from beet juice can be utilized to achieve make the color of uncooked analog into reddish violet and when heat is applied, it will change to orangey-yellow. Besides betalain, plant heme protein such as leghaemoglobin which are extracted from soybean can also be utilized to achieve meat-like color.


Texture wise, Texturized Vegetable Protein has produced highly successful plant-based foods. However, it is still proven to be more challenging to produce mouthfeel like of whole muscle product such as beef steaks, chicken breast, or pork chops due to their complex muscle structure. It requires range of scientifical and technological breakthrough which nowadays still being explored.


Lastly, flavor which becomes one of crucial aspect of acceptance of customer. The flavor profile mainly depends on the meat type and cooking process used. For meat analog, the most common alternative used is soy leghemoglobin produced by fermentation and Mycoproteins due to their abilities to mimic meat-like aromas, tastes, and textures.

Future Aspects?

Government, industries and organization needs to support the shifting of trends from meat-based diet to healthier and sustainable plant-based diet. Further research is still required to ensure that plant-based foods are well designed so they have 90-95% similarities to meat products and most importantly, healthy and have beneficial nutrition for our body.

Source: Nature.com
Image by
: unsplash.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *